"Turn the Beat Around" is a disco song written by Gerald Jackson and Peter Jackson and performed by Vicki Sue Robinson in 1976 (see 1976 in music), originally appearing on her debut album, Never Gonna Let You Go. Released as a single, the song went to #10 on the Billboard pop charts, and #73 on the soul chart. Robinson received a grammy nomination for best female pop vocal. The track went to number one on the disco chart for four weeks. "Turn the Beat Around" is considered a disco classic and is featured on many compilation albums.
"Turn the Beat Around" was written by brothers Gerald and Peter Jackson of the R&B outfit Touch of Class. Peter Jackson knew Al Garrison, an engineer at Associated Studios in New York, via his [i.e. Peter Jackson's] work as a session drummer, and it was at Associated Studios that Touch of Class cut its own demos. Peter Jackson recalls that one Sunday at noontime "I called Al and said...we want to come in and [cut a] demo...He was leaving at four...He said: 'My girl[friend]’s coming to pick me up for dinner. You have to be done [by then]."
Garrison's girlfriend turned out to be singer Vicki Sue Robinson whose debut album was nearing completion requiring one additional track. On arriving at Associated Studios that Sunday, Robinson overheard the playback of the "Turn the Beat Around" demo which Touch of Class had just recorded and according to Peter Jackson said: "Oh, man, I’ve gotta have that song." Gerald and Peter Jackson initially demurred, wishing to submit "Turn the Beat Around" along with four earlier demos to be green-lighted for the Touch of Class debut album.
Peter Jackson - "Monday [the next day], Gerald and I go up to Midland [Touch of Class' label]. We’re excited because we know this song ["Turn the Beat Around"] is slammin’...[Midland] took the other four songs and they passed on that one. They said: 'We don’t like that one. The lyrics move too fast. You have that jungle beat in there. It’s not what’s happening'." Peter Jackson resultantly called Vicki Sue Robinson to give her the song for her album. When Jackson told Robinson: "'I’ll meet you down on Thirty-Fourth Street [with the demo]' she said: 'I [already] made Al give me a copy.'"
Robinson recorded "Turn the Beat Around" on September 26, 1975, cutting her lead vocal in a single take after recording her own multi-tracked chorale vocals. Like the other cuts on Robinson's debut album Never Gonna Let You Go, "Turn the Beat Around" was recorded at RCA Studios with producer Warren Schatz who recalls the basic master of the song was recorded "on a Friday after a very depressing week of rain [and] I hated [the track]! I listened to it in my office and I just couldn't get it. It had been such a bad week that I just couldn't hear anything with an open mind. Then David Todd, the head of disco promotion at RCA, came into my office and he went crazy over the track! He convinced me to finish it as soon as possible."
Issued as a single in February 1976 "Turn the Beat Around" became a club smash subsequently breaking on Top 40 radio in Boston - where it would reach #1 that June - to make a gradual ascent on the national Pop chart: the Billboard Hot 100 to reach a #10 peak in August 1976.
Laura Branigan covered the song in 1990, becoming the first major artist to do so. It was released as the third and final single from her self-titled sixth studio album, however only to radio and clubs. The song was co-produced by Branigan and Steve Lindsey for the album, with several remix versions following garnering significant play in Hi-NRG clubs.